Snapshotting

This article was written by me, Nick, and Brian. If you have any questions, please PM me or ask them in this thread!

With the start of the next challenge leagues we're introducing some major changes to game balance. In particular, we are removing all snapshotting mechanics.

Snapshotting currently allows players to obtain the benefits of one set of items, passives or gems by casting a skill that locks them in (by taking a snapshot of their character with all those things active), then swapping to another configuration so that they have both sets of benefits. For example, a player equips an Alpha's Howl helmet to reduce the mana reservation of an aura, casts the aura with this lowered reservation, then removes the helmet. They now have a cheaper aura active and can equip a different item into their helmet slot.

The majority of snapshotting is used in minion builds. Support gems and minion-augmenting items are swapped in and out to summon large numbers of unusually strong zombies and spectres without worrying about any of the item downsides. Raising a spectre and swapping out supports to raise a spectre of a different type allows spectres raised from the same gem to benefit from an entirely different set of support gems. This process can be incredibly complex and time consuming, as demonstrated in our recent Build of the Week video.

Snapshotting works for aura-driven builds as well. Using a combination of Reduced Mana gems, items and reservation passives, players can run an unintended quantity of super-powered active auras. We've seen this used to a particularly high degree around the challenging Atziri fights.

Righteous Fire is also regularly used with snapshotting mechanics to bolster damage. The skill is used without detrimentally affecting the player's survivability, since all the damage boosting items are swapped out once it has been cast.

Removing snapshotting results in a better game

Though players have been incredibly creative in finding ways to use snapshotting to grow powerful, it has been an issue for a long time. Snapshotting isn't specifically against the rules, but the imbalance it causes among players is not good for the general health of the game. It's also pretty unintuitive for a portion of an item's effects to stay active long after the item has been removed.

Snapshotting is a bit of a lose-lose mechanic. Players using it have to go through tedious setup to make their builds work, time they should be spending slaying monsters and having fun. Players who don't use snapshotting often feel they are underpowered by comparison. They're usually right.

Snapshotting has also stifled design for a while. When we want to add a new skill or item to the game, we have to assess whether it's abusable with snapshotting. Mon'tregul's Grasp, for example, is a flavourful, powerful item that asks players to choose between a few super strong zombies or lots of normal ones. With snapshotting, that choice doesn't exist. Players who use Mon'tregul's Grasp to snapshot are straight-up stronger than players who don't. Snapshotting abuse of things like Mon'tregul's Grasp has prevented several planned cool mechanics and items from finding their way into the game.

Same skills, different behaviours

Currently, minions and buffs are internally handled as separate things. With our August mini-expansion, we're handling all ongoing effects from skills together, so they'll immediately feel the changes to gear, skills or passives. This means no more using Alpha's Howl snapshotting to run multiple reduced mana auras.

Under the new system, removing an aura mana reservation item will terminate its effect. If this means you can't afford to keep all of your auras active, one of them will turn off. We deal with changes to maximum minions, minion strength, gem levels and more in the same way.

There are some other interesting side-effects of how we're handling skill information in 1.2.0 that will allow us to develop convenience changes down the road for players.

Areas of the game affected by the changes to snapshotting

Minions:

All minions created by Dominating Blow, Summon Skeletons, Vaal Summon Skeletons, Summon Raging Spirit, Raise Zombie, Raise Spectre, Animate Weapon and Animate Guardian will dynamically update to all stat and support gem changes. Minions generated with a set level will not increase in level when the gem enabling them levels up. If such a gem levels up while you have minions active, the change in minion level will only be reflected in newly-raised minions. Minions will respawn when you enter a new instance, so their levels will update to match the current higher level of the gem.

Your Animate Guardian's equipment will persist on logout, but due to the snapshotting changes we're making, it won't immediately appear when you leave town. Players will now be able to retrieve their guardian by targeting a blank space of ground and casting the Animate Guardian skill.

Totems, Traps and Mines:

As with minions, the stats of placed traps, totems and mines will change dynamically as players equip or unequip gear and support gems. If you've placed any traps, mines or totems augmented by support gems, unsocketing any of the gems will destroy the trap, totem or mine.

Auras:

Any passives, items or support gems that change the reservation cost or properties of Auras will be immediately reflected. Auras you can't afford to keep active will fall off. Don't worry, changes in aura reservation while Blood Magic is active will not kill you!

Righteous Fire:

By design, Righteous Fire is meant to persist, whether or not you lose the skill. The theme of the skill is that you burn to death! As a result, if you unsocket the Righteous Fire gem, the effect will persist, but will no longer update with changes to support gems as there's no skill gem for them to support. However, if you then make changes to your gear or passives that would affect the skill, it will still detect this and change its effectiveness accordingly. If you resocket the Righteous Fire gem in the same slot, it will begin checking the support gems again, and change the effect to match.

Tempest Shield:

Like auras, Tempest Shield's cost and effectiveness will change dynamically with changes to passives, support gems and items. It will fall off if you can't afford to keep it active.

Skill Reviews

We're currently looking at every skill listed above, as well as some items and passives such as Blood Magic. Don't expect every skill to be buffed or changed - we're currently pretty happy with the state of several of them. When we deem changes necessary, we may roll them in with general adjustments to the passive tree.

What took so long?

We've wanted to fix snapshotting for a while, but doing it properly was a pretty big task. It involved a lot of back-end programming work and it has huge balance implications. The impact of fixing snapshotting on existing player characters dictated that we wait for the period between leagues. It's not our intention to disrupt the progress of players in the middle of a challenge league.

Though the fix to snapshotting means that some previously-abusive builds will lose some firepower, the end result is a healthier game for everyone. The changes mean a cleaner, more sensible experience, with more avenues for interesting skills and itemization. In the long run, even those who regularly used snapshotting will benefit. They will no longer feel obligated to spend many tedious minutes setting up a snapshot, for fear of not maximizing their character's potential.
Last edited by Chris on Oct 10, 2014, 12:09:45 AM
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Wraeclastian wrote:
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Mark_GGG wrote:
This article was written by me, Nick and Brian.[/b]


This article was written by Nick, Brian, and I.

Spoiler
I'm going to have to ask you to hand in your badge, officer, because that's incorrect.

"This article was written by me" - correct.
"This article was written by I" - incorrect.
The presence of the other names doesn't change which pronoun is used.
Were it phrased such that we were the subject of the sentence, it would be "Nick, Brian and I wrote the article".

http://www.elearnenglishlanguage.com/blog/english-mistakes/i-vs-me/

Putting the pronoun at the end of the list is not a hard grammatical rule, but a common convention*, and whether it applies in certain circumstances changes depending who you ask - I was taught that it applies specifically to "I" because that sounds weirder coming first in a list.

*This is at least my understanding, and certainly seems to be born out by some breif brief internet research on the matter.
Last edited by Mark_GGG on Jun 17, 2014, 9:47:48 PM
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Nuttzo wrote:
That Animated Guardian buff should be pretty interesting. I have not really used the skill, even on a summoner, because when you logout you lose the gear/minion. This should potentially make the skill useful, but it needs a straight buff along with this change.
It sounds like you have a misunderstanding of how Animate Guardian works. You've never lost the gear when you log out, only when it dies.
Previously, anytime you had the gem equipped and entered a non-town area, including the first time after logging in, if the guardian had gear from before, it would be automatically recreated. If you logged off while the guardian had items, it would respwan with those items when you logged back in as soon as you left town.
Now, because all these systems have been standardised, it won't autocreate when you first leave town - so we've made you able to target empty ground in this case to resummon it. Once it's out, it will transition areas with you like other following/permanent minions.
It keeping the items on logout isn't a change from the previous behaviour, just the part where it won't auto-summon itself when you first come back to the game.

You will still lose the gear if the guardian dies, of course.
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Completed 5 ChallengesCaptinSupreem wrote:
"This article was written by Brian, Nick and I"

...is still correct and preferable IMO.

"This article was written by (...) I" is not correct. Using the passive voice for this sentence ("article was written by ..." rather than "... wrote the article") causes the pronoun to use the object form ("me" rather than "I").
Some examples here: http://www.english-for-students.com/Passive-Voice.html
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Completed 19 ChallengesPixelite wrote:
"breif"

i c wat u do der
This one, however, is totally on me.

I would prefer if we could leave this thread for discussion of the changes. If people want to continue to debate grammar, feel free to create a thread for this purpose in off topic and PM me a link.
Feedback given here will probably be useful to the balance team, lets not make them wade through an unrelated debate to find it, okay?
Last edited by Mark_GGG on Jun 17, 2014, 9:12:37 PM
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Support gems for summoning: how does it make any kind of sense that generic supports like trap that can combine with a lot of skills offer more boost to minions than the minions specific supports? The current system tends to combine X support with Y spectre to make the other choices not even close to competitive and then we just rotate between spectre as the strongest combination gets nerfed.
TLDR: support gems are screwed up.
There's some good feedback in your post that I'm sure some of the balance team will take into consideration, but I'd like to address this bit here and now. It's nothing to do with snapshotting specifically, so isn't part of this change, but 1.2.0 will also be changing "mine damage", "trap damage" and "totem damage" to explicitly mean damage dealt directly by a trap, totem or mine.
This means that if you place a mine that throws a trap that shoots a fireball, the fireball came from a trap and gets trap damage modifiers, but not mine damage modifiers. It came from the trap, not the mine.
Similarly, If you throw a trap or place a mine that summons a minion, and that minion uses an attack (or spell), then that attack or spell didn't come from a trap or mine and is not "trap damage" or "mine damage" so will not be affected by modifiers to either.

Just as with the snapshotting change, the balance team will also be keeping this change in mind when re-examining minions for 1.2.0.
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Completed 18 Challengesrobmafia wrote:
how is keeping montegral's on switch snapshotting? it's still equipped. the gems are still equipped. what's the point of having 2 weapon/shield slots, if you're penalized for using them?

path of nerf strikes again.
The point of having the second weapon set is so that you can switch between the two sets of modifiers (and weapon types), not so that you can have both at once. Switching out of Montrgul's grasp is a choice to have more weaker zombies, as opposed to fewer, stronger ones. The drawback is supposed go with the benefit - the two should always be applying at the same time.
Last edited by Mark_GGG on Jun 17, 2014, 9:31:25 PM
Weapons in the unused weapon set are not active. None of their modifiers are in effect. If you were able to keep their benefit in effect when they were switched out to the inactive set, that would by definition be snapshotting. You've made the weapon inactive - it's modifiers aren't applying - but you've still kept the benefit of said modifier. That's snapshotting.

If you have a shield in your inactive weapon set, it's block chance doesn't apply.
If you have a wand in your inactive weapon set, it's spell damage increase doesn't apply.
If you have Reaper's Pursuit in your inactive weapon set, it's bleed on hit doesn't apply.
If you have Mon'tregul's Grasp in your inactive weapon set, it's minion damage should not apply. It continuing to apply while the weapon is inactive and it's downside has been removed is snapshotting.
Last edited by Mark_GGG on Jun 17, 2014, 9:51:37 PM
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Completed 18 Challengesrobmafia wrote:
literally nothing's swapped. same gear, same gems.
You have swapped the Mon'tregul's Grasp for the weapon in your other weapon set.
The feature is literally called "Weapon swap". Here is a screenshot from the options panel:
Gear in the inactive set is not considered to be equipped. It allows gems to still gain XP by counting still linking the gems to your character, but the items themselves are not considered equipped.
The ones in the active set are.

I hope this adequately explains why this is a form of snapshotting.
Last edited by Mark_GGG on Jun 17, 2014, 10:00:51 PM
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GodlyMe wrote:
About the changes to Righteous Fire, if I understand correctly, when you cast RF with a,b,c support gems, then remove RF, the benefits from a,b,c supports persist until placed in an item with x,y,z support gems at which point RF will gain the benefits of x,y,z supports.

Is this correct?
Not quite. If you put the RF gem into a different item with different supports, that will give you a new instance of the RF skill, different to the one that was used to case the currently active effect. nothing will update.

If you put the gem back in the same socket it was removed from, then it's the same skill, and it will update to any of the supports that have changed in the meantime, and continue to do so for future support changes.

"
GodlyMe wrote:
If so it doesn't hold true to the whole "burning to death" philosophy.

IMO the benefits that RF has gained from the supports should persist indefinitely, no matter what you do with the gems in the interim, until it is recast, at which point RF gains the benefits of whatever supports are linked to it at that time.
That would a) be snapshotting, and b) not be affecting the burning to death - there are no support gems in the game currently that affect the self burn.
The "burning to death" philosophy is that you should not be able to turn off the skill by removing the gem. Allowing it to correctly update based on support changes, when able, does not impact that.

"
From my understanding of extreme RF snapshotting, it involves low life Pain Attunement 2 Redbeaks, plus the switching of gear such as a 6L Carcass to boost the damage and then switching back to your normal armour.

Which part or parts are going to be fixed?

EDIT: OK I read it again (reading comprehension pro here). So my conclusion is that none of it would work anymore for RF?
Correct.
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Completed 17 Challengesgilrad wrote:
So does this mean gear swapping is still somewhat alive for Righteous Fire?

-Equip a +1 Tabula Rasa with Righteous Fire linked in,

-Cast Righteous Fire

-Swap the TR for a Kaom's Heart

-You now have the benefit of a six-linked chest skill on your Kaom's. Even better, if it's not a legacy, your fire damage gets updated!
That is currently correct. Ideally we'd like it to notice the supports being removed and update, but because the active skill gem is gone at that point, it can't tell what supports are linked to it. There might be changes to this in future, but for now, this is correct.
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1988288 wrote:
You guys should probably look at Montreguls and buff it after the snapshot fix, as it makes you lose nearly half total DPS.
It gives no benefit and drawback is too high. Can't really call 500 life and resists (that already are maxed out) a huge bonus, nor the explosions makes up for the lost damage.

90k dps with 4 zombies (that is montreguls), 160k dps with 9 zombies. DPS loss probably is even higher with lvl 20/20 (or higher) gems.
Could you please share how you calculated these numbers?
Have you not found the zombie life bonus from the item significant in your play?
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Completed 18 Challengesrobmafia wrote:
this still literally makes no sense/is inconsistent.

so the gems are equipped but the items the gems are in aren't? yeah, ok.
Yes, that is the case. Those items are not themselves considered currently equipped on your character in any way. The secondary weapon slots have a special property affecting gems in those items, only for purposes of xp gain.

This is why uniques in those inactive slots don't count as equipped uniques for the item that counts equipped uniques and grants intelligence for them. This is, to my knowledge, treated consistently throughout the game.

"
Completed 18 Challengesrobmafia wrote:
also, you're now using 2 completely different definitions of "swap" - the one used to define snapshotting explicitly stated unequipping items and changing gems;
No, it does not, and that is the same definition of swapping - replacing one equipped thing with another thing that wasn't previously equipped.
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Mark_GGG wrote:
Snapshotting currently allows players to obtain the benefits of one set of items, passives or gems by casting a skill that locks them in (by taking a snapshot of their character with all those things active), then swapping to another configuration so that they have both sets of benefits. For example, a player equips an Alpha's Howl helmet to reduce the mana reservation of an aura, casts the aura with this lowered reservation, then removes the helmet. They now have a cheaper aura active and can equip a different item into their helmet slot.
It only specifies that you swap from one set of items, gems or passives to another, not how that is accomplished. Manually removing and replacing items with the cursor is one way to do this. So is weapon swapping, which does also technically unequip one set of items and equip new ones to the character.

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